The St. Louis Sports Commission unveiled its plans today to raise the profile and impact of its region’s involvement in the Olympic Movement.  Led by its Olympic Legacy Committee, the privately-funded nonprofit organization is embarking on a multi-phase effort to enhance the community’s engagement in Olympism.  Its goal is to inspire awareness and pride in St. Louis’ Olympic affiliation, and to positively impact St. Louis through its opportunities as an Olympic city.

The project has the approval of the International Olympic Committee, which, in a major step, is granting the Sports Commission’s Olympic Legacy Committee permission to display the Olympic rings – one of the most iconic symbols in the world – at the venues where the 1904 Summer Games took place.  Because the 1904 Olympics predated the existence of the rings, St. Louis previously did not have the ability to use the symbol.

Of great significance, the IOC is providing St. Louis the opportunity to display two Olympic “spectaculars” – sculptures of the Olympic rings – at sites that are historically linked to the 1904 Games.  Spectaculars are visibly displayed by Olympic host cities all over the world, such as Beijing, London, Paris, Vancouver, and Sydney as a beacon of their place in the Olympic Movement.  The IOC approved the region’s first spectacular for Washington University, home to the 1904 Olympic stadium and birthplace of the Olympic gold medal.  Spanning 16-feet-wide by nine-feet-high inclusive of its medal podium base, the spectacular will be located near the northeast corner of Francis Field, the oldest modern-day Olympic stadium in active use, and will invite people to interact with and enjoy.  Installation is scheduled for this fall.  A site for the second spectacular will be chosen at a later date.

“The Olympic rings are a timeless global symbol of unity and achievement,” said Michael Loynd, chairman of the St. Louis Olympic Legacy Committee.  “In that same Olympic spirit, we hope they inspire our region to think more globally and thoughtfully about each other, and come together as a community to achieve great things.”

Also part of the project’s first phase is an initiative to visibly identify the venues that hosted Olympic events in 1904.  Currently, the sites lack prominent markers that capture their historical significance and invite people to interact with and feel part of the Olympic Movement.  Interpretive signage will now be installed featuring each venue’s role in the 1904 Games along with notable facts and stories.  Signs are planned for Washington University (site of multiple events), Forest Park (aquatics), Creve Coeur Lake (rowing), and Glen Echo Country Club (golf).  Additionally, signage will mark what was the 1904 Olympic Marathon route.  Each sign will include an IOC-approved stamp that incorporates the Olympic rings and has been designed specifically for St. Louis’ Olympic legacy program.  The stamp is expected to be approved by the IOC and released in the upcoming weeks 

Complementing the spectacular and signage initiatives will be grassroots programs and educational platforms intended to engage the entire community, especially young people, in Olympism.  The St. Louis Olympic Legacy Committee also has developed a website at stlouis1904legacy.org that highlights the history, innovations and relevance of the 1904 Games, and provides information on the Olympic legacy project.  (A rundown of noteworthy facts, firsts, and falsehoods about the 1904 Olympics accompanies this news release.)

The St. Louis Olympic Legacy Committee is also focused on future opportunities to impact the region through St. Louis’ distinction as an Olympic city.  These include pursuing Olympic Trials, national governing body championships, torch relays, and other special events; connecting with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles; and potentially hosting a future meeting of the World Union of Olympic Cities, which would bring to St. Louis the international sports community to see how the region is bringing its Olympic legacy to life and engaging in the Olympic Movement.  

WHY NOW?:  The St. Louis Sports Commission has long been at the forefront of embracing the region’s Olympic affiliation.  But not until now has the organization been able to implement some of the significant initiatives it envisioned.  A string of developments, starting with St. Louis’ membership in the World Union of Olympic Cities nearly a decade ago, paved the way.  Created as an outlet for Olympic cities to share ideas and best practices to ensure continued positive impact from the Games, the World Union has been embraced by the IOC.  With the Sports Commission representing St. Louis in the World Union, it had the opportunity to present its vision and proposed initiatives directly to IOC staff.  The effort began to advance in 2015 after the IOC adopted Agenda 2020, a strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement.  Among its 40 recommendations, Agenda 2020 encourages cities to focus on legacy and sustainability.  It also calls for extending access to the Olympic brand for non-commercial use.  With those priorities in place, and with St. Louis partly a catalyst, the IOC introduced guidelines for all Olympic cities to promote their legacies.  The St. Louis proposal was approved this past October and the Sports Commission’s Olympic Legacy Committee is collaborating with the IOC to implement its initiatives.

 FUNDING:  The initiatives of the St. Louis Olympic legacy project will be funded through private donations.  Thanks to a lead gift from the Interco Charitable Trust, more than half of the funding needed to implement the project’s first phase has already been raised.  Those interested in contributing to the effort can make a tax-deductible donation to the St. Louis Sports Foundation and specify it be directed to the Olympic legacy project.  Donations can be made online at stlouis1904legacy.org.

MORE ABOUT THE OLYMPIC SPECTACULAR:  The Olympic spectacular at Washington University will be located at the end of Olympic Way (the first and final stretch of the Olympic Marathon) and adjacent to the 1904 Olympic stadium (now Francis Field, named after David R. Francis, the Washington University alum, former governor of Missouri, and the person who brought the 1904 World’s Fair and Olympics to St. Louis).  The spectacular is also near what was the 1904 Olympic gymnasium – now Gary M. Sumers Recreation Center.  To reflect that the St. Louis Games were the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals, the spectacular’s base is designed in the shape of an Olympic medal podium.  The spectacular at Washington University was commissioned by the St. Louis Olympic Legacy Committee and designed by Ted Spaid and Zach Snovelle of SWT Design.  It will be donated to Washington University upon installation. 

“The 1904 Olympics are forever tied to the history of St. Louis and Washington University, and I am very pleased that there will now be a beautiful and permanent tangible reminder on our campus of these historic Games,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said.  “This memorial to the Games will no doubt become a favorite meeting space on campus, and I am sure that, ‘meet me at the Rings’ will quickly become part of the Washington University vocabulary.  We could not be more proud to be the home of this important new reminder of St. Louis’ Olympic legacy and its connection to the international community.”

MORE ABOUT THE ST. LOUIS OLYMPIC LEGACY COMMITTEE:  The St. Louis Sports Commission views St. Louis’ distinction as an Olympic city as a significant regional asset.  St. Louis is one of only 23 cities in the world and three in the United States to host the Summer Games.  The organization aims to generate greater understanding of the value and relevance associated with the region’s place in Olympic history.  Most importantly, it seeks to positively impact the community through the opportunities its status as an Olympic city creates.  The Sports Commission established its Olympic Legacy Committee to help achieve those objectives.  The committee is chaired by Michael Loynd, a St. Louis attorney, investment manager, and author whose volunteer efforts have significantly advanced the Olympic legacy project.  Committee members include: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, six-time Olympic medalist, world-record holder and Sports Illustrated’s Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century; Bob Costas, Hall of Fame broadcaster and host of 12 Olympic Games (1992-2016); Shad Schoenke, a local marketing professional and civic booster who helped develop the project’s vision, content and creative, and is responsible for designing the interpretive signage; Frank Viverito, president of the Sports Commission; and Marc Schreiber, vice president of the Sports Commission.

“As host of the 1904 Games, St. Louis is in elite company and forever has a place at an international table that includes the world’s greatest cities,” Viverito said.  “The St. Louis Games changed the Olympics for the better.  We want to use that spirit of innovation as a model to move our community ahead.” 

The St. Louis Sports Commission is the privately-funded nonprofit organization that grows, strengthens and moves St. Louis forward through sports.  The organization uses the power of sports to enhance the area’s quality of life and generate economic and social benefit for the St. Louis region.